WORDS BY LUCY HARDY
Picture it — Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie run the streets of LA tailed by paparazzi, Britney Spears slurps Starbucks in velvet tracksuits, Lindsay Lohan is in just about every teenage rom-com and everything is either pink, logoed or bedazzled. It’s the early ‘00s, of course, or Y2K.
For a decade often referred to as the fashionless decade — or an era of tasteless fashion even, it’s somehow managed to make a reappearance in 2021.
What is Y2K fashion?
Y2K originally referred to the computer bug that was thought to wreak havoc at the turn of the millennium, but it now refers to the fashion aesthetic of the years that followed.
Whilst ‘90s fashion has been on the radar for quite some time, Y2K fashion has been creeping up slowly. First with mini bags and tiny sunglasses, then with bucket hats and hair scrunchies, and now with wide-leg jeans and pleated skirts. You know the vibes.
Whether you’re old enough to remember it the first time or part of the TikTok generation largely responsible for its resurgence, read our guide to discover how to channel the futuristic-yet-throwback Y2K aesthetic now.
Shortly before the massively-oversized tote bag trend of 2007 took off, bags were teeny weeny — we’re talking just big enough for your fuchsia flip phone and shiny lip gloss. Mini bags have made a comeback due to ‘90s and Y2K nostalgia, with a whole host of brands offering up the goods. The BY FAR Rachel bag is a notable favorite and is available in a selection of color and finish combos. Throw it all the way back with Prada’s mini logo-plaque designs too.
Speaking of Y2K bags, to really embrace the look, opt for one of the era’s many It bags. From Fendi’s Baguette, to the Dior Saddle bag and Louis Vuitton’s iconic original and colorful monogram, there are both pre-owned and new season options to choose from (chihuahua not included). Look to the many icons of the decade for styling inspiration.
Welcome to the skinny-jeans-are-over party. As the debate between millennials and Gen Z rages as to whether skinny jeans are so 2000 and late, there’s no denying the effortless comfort of wide-leg styles. But there’s no pressure to take the Y2K jeans trend all the way with a low-rise waist, as we’ve got plenty of high-waisted options. Discover Bottega’s slouchy denim and a range of hues from Dorothee Schumacher.
What to pair with your wide-leg jeans? Just think, what would Britney Spears do? Choose an itty-bitty tank top to match. Nothing says Y2K style like a cute crop top. Make it monogram, pink, halterneck, strappy or sparkly and you’ve nailed it.
Everyone from The Plastics to Bratz Dolls had a pleated skirt, and if you want to channel the ultimate Y2K aesthetic you’ll need one too. Burberry’s got the throwback vibes sorted with Vintage check styles, Dion Lee’s got simple white tennis skirts and Thom Browne has baby pink designs — for Wednesdays, of course. Style with tie-front tops, argyle sweaters and cardigans.
If you could sum up Y2K clothing in two words it would be velour tracksuits. Juicy Couture, Paris Hilton and J.Lo made them famous with their iconic bubblegum pink and turquoise styles, not forgetting the crystal embellishment. Designs have changed a little since then (even Paris has ditched the pink). Give this look a 2021 update with darker shades and neutral tones from Les Tien and Off-White. If you are inclined to stick with the bold colors, then Palm Angels is the one for you.